Thursday, May 17, 2012

Family Friendly Residencies

You may have heard that some of us (Anna Solomon, Greg Olear, Caroline Grant, & Thomas Israel) submitted a panel proposal about parenting/writing for AWP in Boston 2013, I don't know if we will be selected but we intend, among other resources, to present a parent-conscious list of writer's getaways such as family-friendly residencies: writing colonies at which kids can either stay with their parent or there’s programming for them. This is like writer’s gold, and it's a trend we would love to see proliferate. For a start, here’s a list of a few current residency programs that parents are encouraged to apply for that allow kids to remain the whole time with the writer: 

Acadia National Park.

Right. There is exactly one. It’s in Maine. Here's the website

The easiest way to search for an appropriate residency is through the online search engine on the Alliance of Artists Communities Website.

But I’ve done the depressing work for you.

Besides the one writing residency program in the world that does not require membership that does allow children for the entire duration of the writer’s stay--Go Acadia!--there are additionally seven residencies in the world that currently allow children for the entire residency, but you have to be a member of the organization sponsoring the residency to apply. Six, luckily, are in the US--though most of them require membership. One is in China.

18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica
Elsewhere Studios, Colorado
Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown
Headlands Center for the Arts, San Fran
McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte
Red Gate Residency, China
Spiro Arts, Utah

This has got to change. Either residencies have to acknowledge the difficulties (as Yaddo does) of being away for extended periods without seeing family, and allow for family visits – or writing colonies need to take into account they are losing a vast clientele of great writers with incomes who would happily go away for four days to a week, just to have some mental space.  Why should the Santa Fe Doubletree Hotel gain money that deserves to be spent at StarryNights?

You tell me.  Next time, we talk about some published writers and how they carve out mental space.


  1. Thank you for this post. As depressing and true as it is, I feel like it just motivates me more to help create a world in which parents don't have to chose between being a writer or raising their children. It's a bipolar expectation and I know many a mom (most single) who are bad ass writers and yet unable to commit to a full and active writerly life or even a PT writerly life as their main priority is keeping pan on the table. I've been accepted two summers in a row to prestigious writer's workshops and been unable to go because i. they're damned expensive and 2. I can't get childcare for that long. I think we, writers of lesser means, should look into how writing seems to be increasingly a luxury of those with means. It says a lot when a colony or workshop is filled with people who aspire to write at 2500 + to do so. I feel like workshops worth their weight should make every effort to provide at least 10% of their attendees with full or partial scholarships. I smell a longer essay coming on.
    thanks, ariel

  2. I hear you amirsmama! Super frustrating how expensive it has become. I recently heard of a new legit idealist group that has tried to make serious online workshops for free; it's called WRITERSBLOQ. (i'm not sure if it's .com or .org - but i'm fairly certain it's free - pen parentis is in no way associated with them, i just read an article, thought it looked interesting and given this topic was intrigued at their solution to this problem)

    Above all, do not give up! Refuse to live in a world where only celebrities and trust fund babies get published. Keep writing!